Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Revisited

Last year, I shared my story about shopping for socks many years ago. I have learned alot since then and this morning, I was prepared to go shopping my way...and it worked.

I had two things that I wanted to get. Socks for Judy and I and a Blue Ray DVD player that was down at Walmart. I was sure the DVD player was gone as people waited in line in the middle of the night for that one but I was going to check it out, just in case.

I pulled into Fred Meyer's at 7:50. I spied a 10 minute slot next to the door. If all went as I hoped, I would be out in plenty of time. In two minutes, I had Judy's socks, two more and I had mine. One minute later, I was at the self check out with no line. Two minutes after that, I was eating donuts and drinking coffee as I walked out the door to my car. At 8AM, I was well on my way to Walmart arriving and parking at around 8:05.

I walked into Walmart knowing where the DVD players were by the map on the internet. I walked to a huge display full of players. They had put it a few isles away from the electronics and my thoughts had gone one was around them. I had my player and was in my car heading to a busy diner at 8:15.

I am sure that the crew was very tired of my bragging but I was very proud of my shopping trip this year. Maybe the older and wiser thing has some truth to it?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Football Adventure

Casey's favorite team is the Detroit Lions. It has been since his youth and he has stuck with them. So, when he found that they were going to be playing in Seattle this year, we set up plans and bought tickets. I thought it through knowing the weather up there and made sure that our seats were on the bay side of the stadium so that any weather would be behind us and we secured seats up top on that side of the arena. We bought four so that Jayden and Casey's girlfriend, Jessica could go.

Saturday afternoon went by slow for two reasons, we had to wait for Jess to get off of work and the Ducks were losing down in San Fran but finally we hit the road around 5 or so. We made fairly good time and I watched the speed signs closely between zig zag and sandy as they fluctuate a bit there. I usually set my cruise on five miles above the limit, knowing that no police will stop for that. Coming into Sandy, I didn't notice the signs but slowed down knowing that the Sandy 25 was just around the corner. As I entered Sandy at my speed of 25 or so, I noticed the lights in my rear view mirror. I slowed and looked for a wide stretch to pull off at (for officer courtesy) and the policeman got angered at me, hitting his siren for effect. He informed me that I was driving 57 in a 40. I asked where and he told me of how there were two signs one informing of the other up and coming 40 mph and when I hit the 40 sign, I was going 57 (obviously decelerating from my 60, but oh well). I said something as he handed me the $170 ticket and he coldly informed me that he could double the price as it was in a safety zone. I thanked the kind sir and we got on our way.

We stopped at our friends house in Vancouver where Trin stays when working in Portland. Randy and Anisha Slocum are some of the most giving people that I know and since their kids were gone for the weekend, they too went out for the night leaving the house to us. If we had not shown up, Trin would have been home alone. We all situated ourselves for the night and I dropped off to sleep around 10. I heard a siren but thought it might have been a dream or something and lay there in my bed. Trin banged on the door and came inside looking out the back window overlooking the yard behind. I could then see the emergency lights and saw many of the locals mingling around a SUV that had been driven into the fence of the neighbors. A police car sitting next to it seemed to have forced it there.

I put on my clothes and went out to see what was up. As I approached the scene, an Asian lady was smoking a cigarette and walking my way so I asked her what was up. "A guy just jumped out of this car and ran down the road. I think the police have him.". Other police cars showed up and one large police officer walked up to us, grabbed the woman throwing down her cigarette and spinning her around to slap on the cuffs. She had been in the vehicle! I threw my arms up and backed away finding another neighbor to talk with. In all, around 9 police cars showed up. I was so happy that I was there because I know Trin well and she would have panicked over the situation leaving me helpless to help her out so far away.

The excitement over for the night, I got back to sleep and we headed out early the next morning. We arrived in Seattle around noon, just in time for the 1PM kick off. We mingled in the crowd outside the stadium eating dogs from the local stands in the street as a part of the whole football package.

We arrived in our seats about a half hour before the kick off. Although they were high up, we had a fantastic view of the whole field from the 50 yd line.

Others began moving in around us and a family of four came in two rows down. They were very colorful and informed everybody around them that they had come in from Iowa to see the game. The funny thing was their dress. The mother (who reminded me of Edith Bunker from All in the Family) was dressed normally, her husband was all decked out in Minnesota Viking gear, the son in Miami Dolphin gear, and his wife/girlfriend the only one in a gear of one of the teams as she sported Detroit Lions gear including an autographed Joey Harrington jersey (that should be worth a bit).

Edith began excitedly taking pictures of their game event. She had that big Edith smile on her face as she snapped the shots. But when the game started and the crowd roared around her, she turned sideways and held her hands over her ears not looking at the field at all. After that initial excitement, she sat down and preceded to put all of her stuff on the seat next to her. The problem was that seat was soon occupied. She seemed frazzled bringing all of her stuff back to her small space. Putting her coat on, taking it off, putting it on again and finally placing it on the seat behind her. She sat back down and seconds later threw her hands up in the air. She had lost something. She looked in a panic around her and then made the fellow who had taken the seat away from her stand up so she could look around him. She finally found it behind her on her seat. By the end of the first quarter, her seat was vacated and I spied her sitting in the isle way. She could not handle the closeness of us all, I guess. Her husband joined her at the end of the third quarter or so.

Behind me a crowd of 9 or 10 Canadians showed up. Mostly guys, there was one young girl in the bunch. They were all drinking beer and arguing over which Hockey team was better, Calgary or Edmonton. Through most of the game, they talked beer and hockey (ehh). Their heavy Canadian accents highlighted the yelling back and forth. The funniest remark that I heard was somewhere in the second half. "Hey, this is great. We should do this more often. Anyone know which team is winning?".

As they drank, the language got more and more loose. The "F" word started to get thrown around and by half time was a steady flow. I had had enough and I stood up, turned around, looking at all of them in the eye in my best Grandpa stern look and while pointing down at Jay, said, 'Do you think you could stop the swearing please.". They were all very apologetic and I heard many "sorry sir's". I thanked them and sat back down. During the second half, I heard them policing themselves. As one would slip up, the other would hit him and I am sure point back down at Jay. I got to rather like those guys who seemed clueless as to who was even playing the game down on the field.

After the game finished, we fought the crowds going out and got in our car, deciding to drive straight home as it was only 4:30. We made only one big stop in Portland for gas and supplies and arrived in Bend around 10:30 - 11.

As I drove down the freeway in Washington, I would fly past cars and then realize that the 70mph had been reduced to 60mph only to have those same cars fly by me minutes later when the 60 became 70 again. I do need to keep a closer eye on those types of signs, don't I?

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Every one of us has one. That single most important person who was the biggest influence in their life. Now there are usually many different influential people but usually one who sticks out above all others.

For me and my two brothers, that was a man named Ned Landers. Graduate of the University of Oregon, he was an excellent trumpet player and a very good baseball player. I believe he could have excelled in either of these but he chose another direction. To follow God in ministry.

His first church was the small white Baptist church in Crescent. He was newly married to a beautiful woman named Marcene. Marcene complimented him so well in his profession and the town quickly embraced the young couple.

Ned was not a fiery speaker. But he always spoke truth and backed it up with his life. I often remembered his laugh and don't recall ever seeing anger in his eyes, even when I drove my car through his freshly built white picket fence in front of his house.

He was the one who led me down the path of my decision to believe and who went out back of that church camp chapel with me and knelt behind a log pile where I a made my commitment. Afterwards, I looked up and saw a heard of deer grazing just feet from us. Ned talked of the innocence of the deer and correlated it with the innocence of Christ. I felt very peaceful and happy that night.

I know both of my brothers felt the same of Ned that I did as they both talked so highly of him from time to time. I remember Marvin telling me how highly he felt of Ned and Rudy told me a story once where Ned had challenged him. He said, Ned told him if he comes to a crossroad in his life, sometimes the road that looks harder is the one to take as if will challenge your growth more.

Over the years, I have watched Ned as he led three Churches All three saw growth but all three were small churches. I believe that was Ned's calling. To take a small church and help it develop. He always took a meager salary and was taken care of by the church. I know that must have made his life harder at times but Ned never showed it. I have always looked at that as a perfect example of what Christ would want to see in a leader of His church. I don't ever recall Ned complain about anything. Comment but never complain.

Ned and Marcene always welcomed you into their home. The shared whatever they had gladly with you. I have always felt warm, welcome, and wanted in their homes.

Ned retired from his last church in Longview, WA a few years back. But a pastor never really retires. I found him this week in Yachats while Judy and I spent a couple of days on the coast. He is working with a small Baptist church there helping it get on to it's feet. We followed Ned up to his house where Marcene was busy helping out a neighbor with her laundry. We sat and reminisced about old times and what they had been doing.

I got the opportunity to share with Ned just how influential he had been in my life and I believe I saw a tear in the side of his eyes as he thanked me for the compliment. He talked of being in the church for another year or so but not being able to do much more than that as his health wont allow much more. Once more, it was not a complaint, merely a comment.

Marcene asked us to please stay and have lunch with them. I knew that they didn't have much but it meant allot to her so we agreed allowing more time for us to be together. We shared a meal with them and then left shortly afterwards with Marcene taking a picture of us with her old "film" camera.

You won't find him in a search of the net. You won't read about him in a book. But you will see his influence in just about any person that his life has ever touched. I drove away deep in thought of that couple that I truly love. My mind washed with the thought that so much of the good parts of me were molded by the influence of that one Godly man. The highest setting of the mark of being a good man. Thank you , Ned.